Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Better Watch Out

Signed, stamped, and sealed. That most important, crinkled and colored envelope left for the North Pole a few days ago. I encouraged the girls to greet Santa with a few pleasantries, like "how are you, hope you had a nice summer," then told them they should probably tell Santa if they've been good or bad. (I left it up to them to decide.) Then they could list three things they were hoping for.

I wrote verbatim what came out of their mouths. Can you read my print below?

If not, I've highlighted my favorite lines for you.

From Eliza: "I've been trying to be good. But sometimes not. I hope I don't get coal... I've been helping my brothers but they don't listen to me because they're just babies."

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From Ali: After asking her if she thought she'd been good. Long pause.... "I'll be gooder tomorrow and all the rest of the days." And you have to read about her concern for Dear old Santa.

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From Sami: Just a synopsis: All the world needs now, is love, sweet love.

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So Mr. Peeps is doing his job. I know some of you thought his name was creepy last year (and you were right) but it stuck. There's no changing it now. The girls race through the house each morning trying to find him.

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One evening, after baths, I came upstairs to find a web of yarn strung through the house. I just about clothes-lined myself walking down the hallway. Eliza said it was for Mr. Peeps so he could get from his spot in the kitchen to his next destination (predetermined by Eliza) atop the light fixture in the bathroom. (Maybe he was going to tightrope walk. Or muscle his way along with those super elvish biceps of his!)

Yes, Peeps is doing his job. But I'm starting to wonder if he needs to leave a note of warning, or disappear for a few days. By 6:30 PM tonight, a lump of coal seemed like the perfect addition to the girls' stockings. I came upstairs from folding clothes to find Eliza and Sami "swimming" on the kitchen table. In their swimsuits. They had dumped cups of water onto the table and were taking turns sliding around and watercolor-painting their toenails.

Later Sami cut her hair. Funny enough, I noticed a pair of scissors had gone missing but when I asked if anyone knew the whereabouts, all the innocents chimed in like church bells, "Not me. Not me. Not me." We made an all-out search. Nothing. A few minutes later, I noticed Sami carrying a chunk of hair in hand. Behind her bed I found clumps and tufts of her gorgeous curls lying in a cemetery of other mutilated household objects - straws, paper, the tags off her baby dolls - all cut into shards.

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And tonight as I was trying to make a salad for yet another Christmas party the girls lathered the boys' hair with Aveeno lotion. How does all this happen in less than five minutes? Seriously - you can't make this stuff up!

And then there's the fighting, yelling, snatching, arguing. It's enough to make me put these hoodlums aboard the real Polar Express and ship them off to a polar icecap! Yeah - you better watch out. Because tonight Mom feels more like this.

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Than this.

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So while I take a few deep breaths and try to find that peaceful place of Advent centered-ness again (and since we're on the topic of naughty or nice), here's one of my favorite cautionary Christmas tales, written by Ogden Nash (1942).

Click and listen to storyteller David Wright read Nash's poem on NPR. It's a great one to read with your kids (especially on days like today.) Or link to the full text below.


10 comments:

  1. I've had to do a whole lot of deep breathing lately, too. ;} I sometimes feel like I'm living a bi-polar existence- either joy or insanity at any given moment.

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  2. I sure hope Santa can fit a cradle into his sleigh - it seems to be in high demand. Sorry tonight was so rough, that is really hard. I think the scissors need to go on vacation for a while.

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  3. Tricia - you described it perfectly. Joy or insanity at any given moment. Exactly!

    Shells - Yes - scissors on vacation. Definitely! You make me laugh.

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  4. Ha! Someone once told me that life is funny after a little time passes. :) I feel for you! Hang in there. Love the letters. I think I will try to be "gooder" tomorrow too. :)

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  5. Funny story about Mr. Peeps...we started out with the name as well...but had to change when all Emi was saying out the door to school..."i touched Mr. Peeps now i am in trouble"...i could just see me getting a call from the school wondering what is happening at the Swensen household...so we now just call him elf...:) cute santa letters by the way!

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  6. Tiffany - ah yes, time is the great healer, and bestower of perspective. I'm actually laughing about it today. Mr. Peeps was found this morning holding a phone to his ear, with one hand on his forehead (as if to say, "Oh dear!"). It looked like he had been on the phone with Santa. So today? Pretty golden. I hope you're doing well Tiffany! Miss you guys! And thanks for the reminder - I probably ought to be "gooder" too!

    Amy - What a laugh! Yeah, elf is probably a safer bet. Cute Emi. I love her.

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  7. you have to LAUGH, otherwise you just cry right!??!! im so glad to know im not the only one...the girls have a playdate tomorrow with some friends & we will be decorating cookies...so i thought it would be a good idea to pre-make all the cookies tonight, but of course i was trying to do it quickly and in between baths, bedtime, etc....i seriously had to die laughing at myself after i had one of those out of body moments when i saw myself "loudly" telling them - NO! you cannot help me make the cookies!!!
    ...um, isnt that the point of making & decorating cookies...to have your kids help you, here's to the memories! better lucky for me tomorrow & you as well :)
    ps oh the picture, those poor little lonely curls...

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  8. I am laughing out loud as I remember finding Mary in the corner of the bedroom with a pile of hair in the garbage can and a pair of scissors in her hand. She had cut her bangs right to the scalp. Of course, it was the week before we came home from California for Christmas. Pictures that year were "cute". Deep breathing is highly recommended for mothers of children of any age. Keep breathing and smiling and writing. Love it!

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  9. I am relating to this all too well. We have done the hair cutting thing. Twice. And the swimming on the table, that is hilarious. I just know my 4 year old would think that was the best idea EVER, so we need to keep that on the down low. It is nice to know that I am not the only one. I just found your blog and have really enjoyed reading, thanks for sharing.

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  10. Cami - "NO you canNOT help me make cookies!" I busted up with a loud laugh. Hilarious isn't it? When we kill ourselves trying to "do something fun" then forget who we're doing it for! I have SO been there! Love you Cam.

    Leslie - to the scalp? Oh, dear. Yes, "cute!" But what do you do? Scalped is my worst fear. At least this wasn't much higher than the ear. Very lop-sided but we have some lovely layers I think Deb can work with!

    Rachel - Delighted to find your beautiful blog. Gorgeous photography. And your take on life is so healthy, happy, and humble. Yes, wise of you to keep table-swimming on the down low. Way too fun.

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